Friday, December 31, 2010

Medical marijuana: The science behind the smoke and fears

By Igor Grant,

Friday, October 22, 2010 at midnight

The debate over Proposition 19 – the Nov. 2 initiative to legalize marijuana in California – proves once again that where there’s smoke, there’s ire. But lost perhaps in the overheated haze of political rhetoric and culture clash is an ongoing scientific effort to elucidate marijuana’s potential as a powerful pain killer for people with HIV, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other life-altering conditions.

That effort, I fear, may go up in smoke.

For the last decade, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), based at the University of California San Diego but drawing upon scientists throughout the UC system, has conducted preclinical and clinical trials of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds active in cannabis plants like marijuana. The goal has been to provide empirical evidence, one way or another, to the question: “Does marijuana have therapeutic value?”

The answer is yes.

Three published studies, all conducted under CMCR auspices, indicate marijuana effectively blunts neuropathic pain in some people. This is pain caused by damage to peripheral nerves. It can result in numbness, prickling or tingling sensations, hypersensitivity to touch and muscle weakness. In severe cases, patients feel burning. Neuropathic pain can occur after traumatic injury or from numerous diseases, such as HIV, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cancer.

In two studies, roughly half of patients who smoked cannabis reported 30 percent or greater pain reduction compared to placebo groups. Another study found similar relief for people with spinal cord injuries. A fourth study, not yet published, found marijuana reduced painful spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis better than placebo cigarettes.

Other research has documented that marijuana reduces pain perception and that it can be delivered effectively in vaporized doses, rather than by smoking or oral drugs. Two more studies will finish up next year.

These are admittedly small studies, but they argue for more research, not less. That may not happen. Funding for the CMCR will run out soon. The center will continue to exist, but unless new research projects are funded – unlikely in the current economy and political atmosphere – little progress can be expected. If that happens, opportunities to advance pain science and treatment may be snuffed out.

Some critics will shrug. Marijuana has a notorious reputation. It is broadly branded as a menace to society and human health, a weed without merit, reefer madness. But that’s an ill-informed point of view. Used under the guidance of a trained doctor, marijuana can benefit patients for whom other analgesics have proven inadequate or ineffective. Indeed, cannabis may be a far healthier option. It is not as physically addictive as morphine or barbiturates, whose withdrawal symptoms can involve convulsions and delirium. There is no evidence that monitored, moderate use of marijuana does physical harm. Sure, cannabis can produce psychological dependence – and heavy users may experience mild physiological withdrawal – but these symptoms are not as impairing, nor are they as dangerous as those caused by legal intoxicants like alcohol.

No one suggests that marijuana is a painkilling panacea. It is not. As a therapy, smoked marijuana has limitations. Even if it works wonderfully, it can’t be employed in hospitals or near oxygen tanks. It may not be suitable for patients with certain conditions. And there is the issue of secondhand smoke.

But these constraints and concerns should not undermine all research. Smoking marijuana may be an imperfect remedy, but there is currently no better delivery system for the active, pain-remediating elements of marijuana. Some skeptics point to marinol (dronabinol), a federally approved oral drug that contains synthesized tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana. Dronabinol is typically used to treat nausea and vomiting. As a pain killer, it is problematic because it is absorbed quite variably in different individuals, making it hard to regulate dosing based on treatment response or side effects.

In the long run, of course, the goal is to find something like dronabinol, only better. Scientists are seeking to create a whole new class of medical compounds based upon cannabinoids targeted at specific types of pain impervious to other, more traditional treatments. That can happen, but only if thoughtful people support thoughtful, continued research.

Grant is a professor and executive vice-chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego. He also is director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, the California NeuroAIDS Tissue Network and the Translational Methamphe


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gallup: Record Number Of Americans Now Say They Support Marijuana Legalization

October 29th, 2010 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The latest national poll numbers from Gallup, which has been tracking public opinion on cannabis legalization since the late 1960s, shows that Americans’ support for ‘making marijuana legal’ is now at its highest reported level of support ever.

New High of 46% of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana
Liberals, 18- to 29-year-olds express the highest levels of support

While California’s marijuana ballot initiative is garnering a lot of attention this election cycle, Gallup finds that nationally, a new high of 46% of Americans are in favor of legalizing use of the drug, and a new low of 50% are opposed. The increase in support this year from 44% in 2009 is … a continuation of the upward trend seen since 2000.

These results are from Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 7-10. Approximately 8 in 10 Americans were opposed to legalizing marijuana when Gallup began asking about it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Support for legalizing the drug jumped to 31% in 2000 after holding in the 25% range from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s.

Political Leanings, Age Divide Americans’ Support for Legalizing Marijuana

Across numerous subgroups, liberals’ support, at 72%, is by far the highest. There is widespread support for legalization among 18- to 29-year-olds (61%) as well.
Majority support is also found among Democrats, independents, men, and political moderates.

A large majority of those living in the West, which encompasses California, are in favor of making the drug legal. Support is significantly lower in the South and Midwest.

Political conservatives and Republicans are the least supportive of legalizing marijuana. Seniors express a similarly low level of support.

Women are 10 percentage points less likely than men to favor legalizing the drug.

These demographic, political, and ideological differences in support are much the same as they were in 2009.

Bottom Line

Support for making the drug legal in general, however, is growing among Americans. The public is almost evenly split this year, with 46% in favor and 50% opposed. If the trend of the past decade continues at a similar pace, majority support could be a reality within the next few years.

The latest Gallup numbers reinforce the question: ‘If a government’s legitimate use of state power is based on the consent of the governed, then at what point does marijuana prohibition — in particular the federal enforcement of prohibition — become illegitimate public policy?’ It’s time for our elected officials to answer.



by Joel Wiebe, (Source:Peterborough This Week)

26 Nov 2010

Medicinal marijuana recipients deal with far more than the chronic conditions that led to their unorthodox prescriptions
( PETERBOROUGH ) Paul Falkner lights a joint and considerately blows the smoke toward an open window. 
He's not a drug addict or teenager looking for a fun time: he's a middle-age man taking the only medicine that allows him to get out of bed and function like a regular person. 
He still has a piece of titanium in his back -- a large section of a surgical screw that broke when it was supposed to be holding his spine. 
"I've got the scar on my back to prove it," he states. 
Since 1997, chronic pain has been a constant companion.  Mr.  Falkner has taken numerous, more mainstream, prescription drugs and he says taking marijuana is helping him avoid becoming a drug addict.  Not only can prescription narcotics be addicting, but he says to get to the point that the pain is faded enough to function it left him mentally incapable of doing so.  As he gets older the required doses would also need to grow. 
"It lets people live a semi-normal life," he says of marijuana. 
The problem is, getting a licence to use medicinal marijuana is time-consuming and frustrating.  Then, once you get the licence, there are social concerns and it will have to be renewed annually. 
Mr.  Falkner is one of many people locally who have to fight for months with Health Canada to get licensed. 
Five months and 27 days after filing his paperwork, following many phone calls and help from MP Dean Del Mastro, an Xpresspost envelope arrived with his paperwork, though it was still missing his actual licence card. 
"It's still not fully complete," he points out. 
Come Christmas, he'll be looking to file his papers for a renewal because he knows he'll probably wait another half a year to get it. 
Mr.  Falkner's story is one of many similar situations Vycki Fleming sees. 
A so-called 'good girl,' she says she steered away from drugs and alcohol throughout her younger years.  She's well-educated and once worked a high-paying job.  Then came the chronic pain the and slew of prescriptions that followed.  It took her eight years and 23 doctors to get a marijuana prescription.  At first, she was embarrassed to take it.  She tried to hide it from family, but going without medication while interacting with them proved too painful. 
She jokingly talks about finding a trash-talking 12-year-old who would sell her what she was legally entitled to, an awkward and humiliating process for someone who's never sought out drugs before. 
Since then, she's become a patient advocate.  Having a brain injury and trying to get a job is tough, but finding an employer who will let you medicate regularly makes it a whole lot tougher.  To fill that need to keep busy, she volunteers to help people through the process, getting them appointments with doctors who will prescribe it, dealing with Health Canada's procedures and paperwork, and even explaining to others who have never touched a joint that there are many ways to take it. 
Ms Fleming's favourite is peanut butter cookies, but she knows how to make the most of every part of the plant, from making butter to rolling a joint. 
She gets emotional when talking about the social stigmas she faces regularly.  Her friends slowly stopped inviting her out to the bar since she tends to get hassled if she smells like marijuana.  When she steps outside to light up, she says people will sarcastically say: "I assume that's medicinal," leaving her feeling labelled as an addict. 
"There's never going to be a day in my future when I don't feel pain," she tearfully says of a concept that took her 11 years to come to terms with. 
Taking marijuana doesn't get rid of pain, but she says it turns it into background noise, dropping it from about an eight out of 10 to a two. 
Many of her clients have never tried marijuana until chronic pain set in, bucking the pot-head stereotype she says they face.  They come from all walks of life, including community leaders like store owners, lawyers, and veterans. 
There are some who get their medication to get high, but she points out, who can judge their pain and say it's wrong for them to get high. 
More common medications are used for people to get high as well and she says marijuana doesn't have many of the bad side effects of other drugs. 
"You don't have to like what I do, you don't have to morally agree," she states, noting cannabis doesn't get her high anymore. 
A Conservative party member, MP Del Mastro has no problem helping people process a legal application for medicinal marijuana. 
"This is a prescription from a medical doctor," he states, adding it's no different from percocets in that they too can be abused on the streets.  "This is in fact a controlled, licensed use of a drug for treatment."
He says the federal government takes processing the applications seriously and precautions need to be taken, but he says there may be ways to speed up the wait times. 
He blames an increase in applications for the backlog, speculating it may be due to more awareness about medicinal marijuana.  He says there should be a system for people waiting on renewal papers, technically not legal to use it, to be safe from police action until their application is either approved or denied and anyone arrested may get assistance from his office. 
While he may support legal use of marijuana, he's not a proponent of legalizing it all together.  MP Del Mastro worries that it would lead to more, less detectable, impaired driving and lead to more drug use among youth.  Harm, he says, is not just physical, but can affect family, friends, and a person's potential to achieve things in life. 
Gary Holub, media relations officer with Health Canada, says they are making changes to speed up the process, but the number of applications continues to increase. 
"Health Canada is currently considering longer-term measures to reform the Marihuana Medical Access Program and its regulations," he writes in an e-mail. 
The only drug he says also requires a license with Health Canada is Revlimid, used for cases of multiple myeloma treatment.  Marijuana is not considered a therapeutic drug. 
When asked what people should do when in limbo between getting a renewal and their old license expiring, he only warned that any possession or production of marijuana when not licensed is illegal and can lead to police action, adding questions on medical advice should be directed to a doctor. 
The current policy for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario regarding medicinal marijuana is that doctor's don't need to prescribe it and should only do so with caution after conventional drugs have been tried.  The eight-year-old policy is up for review in spring, but Senior Communications Co-ordinator Kathryn Clarke says the schedule is flexible and policy may not be reviewed at that time. 
When e-health arrives, she says it may have a better tracking method for the drug and she says more studies are need on the adverse affects of it. 
Outright legalization aside, Mr.  Falkner says the whole system needs to be revamped.  With Health Canada backlogged for months, he says people suffer and die while waiting for their medication. 

MAP posted-by: Matt



Pubdate: Fri, 26 Nov 2010
Source: Peterborough This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Joel Wiebe

'Gold Standard' Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective

State-Funded Clinical Trials Show Cannabis Eases Neuropathic Pain And Spasticity, Landmark Report Says

February 18, 2010 - Sacramento, CA, USA

Sacramento, CA: The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued Wednesday to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).

Four of the five placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that marijuana significantly alleviated neuropathy, a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage.

"There is good evidence now that cannabinoids (the active compounds in the marijuana plant) may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for ... neuropathy," said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol. He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was "very consistent," and that its pain-relieving effects were "comparable to the better existing treatments" presently available by prescription.

A fifth study showed that smoked cannabis reduced the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. A separate study conducted by the CMCR established that the vaporization of cannabis – a process that heats the substance to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – is a "safe and effective" delivery mode for patients who desire the rapid onset of action associated with inhalation while avoiding the respiratory risks of smoking.

Two additional clinical trials remain ongoing.

The CMCR program was founded in 2000 following an $8.7 million appropriation from the California state legislature. The studies are some of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis as a medicine to take place in over two decades.

Placebo-controlled clinical crossover trials are considered to be the 'gold standard' method for assessing the efficacy of drugs under the US FDA-approval process.

"These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs," said former California Senator John Vasconcellos, who sponsored the legislation in 1999 to launch the CMCR. Vasconcellos called the studies' design "state of art," and suggested that the CMCR's findings "ought to settle the issue" of whether or not medical marijuana is a safe and effective medical treatment for patients.

"This (report) confirms all of the anecdotal evidence – how lives have been saved and pain has been eased," said California Democrat Sen. Mark Leno at the press conference. "Now we have the science to prove it."

Full text of the CMCR's report to the California legislature is available at online at:

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at:, or Dale Gieringer, California NORML Coordinator, at: or (415) 563-5858.

    updated: Feb 18, 2010



by Jenny Yuen, (Source:Northumberland Today)

27 Dec 2010

WARKWORTH -The taxman wants to make sure he scores off Adrienne Baker-Hicks's pot purchases. 

The Warkworth woman didn't expect to get hit for nearly $100 of HST monthly when buying her usual $750 shipments of medical marijuana. 

But the taxman has been digging into her pocket ever since the HST came into effect in July. 

"It's ridiculous," said Baker-Hicks, 52, who became licensed to purchase marijuana last year. 

"I am charged $97.50 per shipment.  The pills I have to take from my doctors, I don't have to pay HST on them," she added.  "Here, the doctor signs it.  That's how they fill out the cards -- they have to put how many grams you get for the month.  It's the same thing as a prescription."

In the case of prescription drugs, a patient pays only a dispensing fee. 
"I'm able to afford ( the HST ), but there are some people who can't," she said. 
Her allotment of 150 grams of pot each month helps Baker-Hicks deal with the 27 chronic diseases. 

It helps with the pain of her degenerated bone spurs that damage her spinal cord, a blood condition and a disorder which causes seizures. 

"It helps you deal with your day," she said. 

The former biomedical researcher has been on long-term disability for 10 years and stays mainly at home with her husband in their home. 

"Health Canada charges me and I've spoken to them and I'm still waiting for callbacks from them from March," she said. 

According to Health Canada, which regulates medicinal marijuana, pot is subject to HST in applicable jurisdictions -- including Ontario. 

"Dried marijuana is not an approved therapeutic drug ( i.  e.  prescription drug under the Food and Drug Act," said Health Canada spokesman Stephane Shank. 

The Canadian Revenue Agency could not provide a comment on why HST was being charged on the plant. 

"Individuals who obtain a Health Canada supply of marijuana for medical purposes may claim the costs of their marijuana as a medical expense for tax purposes, provided that they have kept their Government of Canada receipts," Shank added. 

It's little comfort for Baker- Hicks, who accused the government of weeding out those who smoke pot to help cope with their illnesses. 

"With each shipment I get the paperwork from Ottawa telling me the government doesn't recommend the use of medical marijuana and that it's addictive," she said "That tells you what the government thinks about us using marijuana."

Marijuana Meetup: Teapot Party Invitation

December 12th, 2010 By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

The Teapot Party
We lean a little to the left -
Twitter -


MEDIA NOTE - The Teapot Party is launching a Meetup Everywhere community and encouraging nationwide gatherings on 12/15/10 and 1/18/11

Teapot Party announces first nationwide event

The recent arrest of music legend Willie Nelson for marijuana possession by the US Border Patrol in Texas has sparked a new national political effort called The Teapot Party.

Rather than stay quiet about the 11/26/2010 bust, Willie sent an email to Steve Bloom of “Let’s start a new party. There is the Tea Party. How about the Teapot Party? Our motto: ‘We lean a little to the left.’ Tax it, regulate it, legalize it. And stop the border wars over drugs. Why should the drug lords make all the money? Thousands of lives will be saved.”

With Willie’s blessing, a page for Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party was created at Facebook. Tens of thousands of people have stopped by to voice their enthusiastic support for our core position: It’s time to end the war on marijuana smokers.

Over 35, 000 people joined the Facebook group in just one week. Teapot Party groups have already formed in all 50 states and some international chapters are developing.

The administrators of the Teapot Party Facebook page are now using the free and open internet platform Meetup Everywhere as their main organizing tool.

Two meet-up dates have been scheduled: December 15, 2010 and January 18, 2011.


The Teapot Party is in its nascent stage. We want our own candidates who support legalizing marijuana and hemp as their main issue.

It’s time for us to take back America to restore our economy and return our liberties, the most important of which is the freedom to responsibly use marijuana.

We’re looking forward to getting feedback from you, the people, the pot-smokers of America. So let’s all join together, one nation under a marijuana cloud, and get this Teapot Party started!

Sativa Survey Time: Marijuana Use and Behavioral Data Sought By NORML

Tue, 28 Dec 2010 20:43:07  By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

Longtime cannabis researcher, professor, author, frequent medical expert on NORML’s daily podcast and NORML Advisory Board member Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D, from the University at Albany, is once again seeking the help of cannabis consumers by asking for their participation in some basic research regarding cannabis use and behavior.

Below is a description of the anonymous online survey, along with a link to take the survey.

Dr. Earleywine’s research into cannabis use is frequently published and it very often provides great insight for policy makers, public health officials, parents and law enforcement. See a lecture from Dr. Earleywine at a past NORML conference here.

Thanks in advance for…advancing science!

* * *

Study Description
You are being asked to participate in a research study designed to investigate the potential relationship between various personality characteristics, illicit drug use, and other behaviors. The study is being conducted under the supervision of Dr. Mitch Earleywine, Department of Psychology through the University at Albany. If ANYTHING goes awry, email Dr. Earleywine. Please don’t email anyone else if you have problems with the survey.

Your participation in this research study involves completing several computerized questionnaires pertaining to your personal characteristics, attitudes and behaviors (including your use of illegal drugs and participation in risky behaviors).

Participation in this study is expected to take about approximately 30 minutes to complete. At the end of the survey you will have the opportunity to enter your email address for inclusion in a raffle for a $100 gift card to

Due to the nature of this research there is a chance that you may feel slightly uncomfortable answering some of the questions. We would like to remind you that your participation in this project is entirely voluntary. You may skip questions that you feel uncomfortable answering at anytime without any penalty to you as a participant. Your decision to discontinue participating before the end of the study will not result in the penalty or loss of benefits to which you may otherwise have been entitled.

Some of the questions involve information about illegal behavior. We have made great efforts to protect your confidentiality, but there is a small possibility of a confidentiality breach. Please read the section below on confidentiality. Given the sensitive and illegal nature of some of the topics, you may feel slightly embarrassed when answering some of the questions.

While we anticipate no direct benefits to you, others may benefit through the contribution you make to increased knowledge about factors that influence personal characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors.

All information obtained in this study is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required by law. In addition, the Institutional Review Board and University or government officials responsible for monitoring this study may inspect these records.

It is important for you to know that questionnaire data will be collected via While we do not anticipate any problems associated with using this service, there is always some risk of a confidentiality breach associated with using the Internet. In order to ensure your privacy and confidentiality, all of your responses will be coded with a subject ID number. We will not obtain any personal identifying information that might directly relate you to the subject ID number or identify you as a participant. The one exception is your email address, which we will give you the option to provide should you like to be involved in a raffle for a prize upon completing the survey. Your email address, however, will be maintained separately from the rest of the information you provide when the data is downloaded from the Internet.

We will take every step possible to ensure your confidentiality, including limiting access to Surveymonkey data only to those individuals necessary to conduct the study. Furthermore, Surveymonkey uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), which ensures industry standard protection typical of banking and other payment websites. All data collected online during this study will be stored in a password protected account and any data obtained in the laboratory or downloaded will be secured in locked filing cabinets or password protected computers. After a period of seven years, all materials will be destroyed.

Access the survey here!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Airport Screening Machines and Marijuana: Good Catches?

December 27th, 2010 By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

From December 26 Washington Post: “The full-body scanners in use at 78 U.S. airports can detect small amounts of contraband and hidden weapons, all while producing controversial images of travelers.

The “good catches,” federal officials say, have largely gone unnoticed amid the criticism that erupted over the ghostly X-rays and “enhanced” pat downs. The Transportation Security Administration, which intensified airport screening last month, points to several successes: small amounts of marijuana wrapped in baggies, other drugs stitched inside underwear, ceramic knives concealed in shirt pockets.”

Check out photos of airline travelers busted for cannabis here.

With over 1,000 of these high tech scanning devices deployed at airports by our Reefer Madness-loving federal government, cannabis consumers need to pay special attention when attempting to travel with their medical or recreational cannabis supply.

Question: Do you feel safer knowing that the feds are spending billions annually on technology that is largely used on busting passengers with small amounts of a dried vegetable matter that possesses strong healing and mild psychotropic properties?

Answer: I’ll bet hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow doesn’t feel any safer after getting popped by TSA scanners for a little bit of ganja earlier this month.

Tags: airport, Kurtis Blow, scanners, TSA


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hemp homes are cutting edge of green building


Hemp is turning a new leaf. The plant fiber, used to make the sails that took Christopher Columbus' ships to the New World, is now a building material.


By Peak Definition

In Asheville, N.C., a home built with thick hemp walls was completed this summer and two more are in the works.

Dozens of hemp homes have been built in Europe in the past two decades, but they're new to the United States, says David Madera, co-founder of Hemp Technologies, a company that supplied the mixture of ground-up hemp stalks, lime and water.


By Peak Definition

The industrial hemp is imported because it cannot be grown legally in this country — it comes from the same plant as marijuana.

Its new use reflects an increasing effort to make U.S. homes not only energy-efficient but also healthier. Madera and other proponents say hemp-filled walls are non-toxic, mildew-resistant, pest-free and flame-resistant.


By Peak Definition

"There is a growing interest in less toxic building materials, says Peter Ashley, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.

"The potential health benefits are significant," he says, citing a recent study of a Seattle public housing complex that saw residents' health improve after their homes got a green makeover.


By Peak Definition

The U.S. government has not taken a "systemic approach" to studying chemicals in homes and instead addresses problems such as asbestos, lead, arsenic and formaldehyde only after people get sick, says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a private research group.

She says green building so far has focused mostly on the environment, not the health of the people inside.

Ashley agrees that federal attention has been "sporadic," but says an interagency group began meeting last year to tackle the issue more broadly. He says HUD is funding more research on the health and environmental benefits of eco-friendly homes.

Some green-rating programs, such as the one run by the private U.S. Green Building Council, give points for indoor air quality.

"We are taking the next step in green building," says Anthony Brenner, a home designer with Push Design who created Asheville's first hemp home. "We're trying to develop a system that's more health-based."

Brenner says he's been searching for non-toxic materials because he wants to build a home for his 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has a rare genetic disorder that makes her extremely sensitive to chemicals. "We have to keep her away from anything synthetic," he says, or she'll have seizures.

He says a hemp home can be affordable, even though importing hemp makes it more expensive than other building materials, because skilled labor is unnecessary and hemp is so strong that less lumber is needed.

The hemp mixture — typically four parts ground-up hemp to one part lime and one part water — is placed inside 2-foot-by-4-foot wall forms. Once it sets, the forms are removed. Although it hardens to a concrete-like form, wood framing is used for structural support.

"This is like a living, breathing wall," Madera says. Hemp absorbs carbon dioxide and puts nitrogen into the soil, so it's good for the environment, he says.

Alex Wilson, executive editor of Environmental Building News, says hemp can be grown with minimal use of chemicals and water. He says it has a midlevel insulating value (R-2 per inch) but is usually installed in a thick enough wall system to make it appropriate for all but the most severe climates.

The mixture, "Tradical Hemcrete," has not previously been used in U.S. homes, but in 2008 it went into a community center on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Badlands, S.D., as well as a small chapel and pottery studio near Houston, says Mario Machnicki, managing director of American Lime Technology, a Chicago company that imports hemp from the United Kingdom.

Asheville's second hemp home will be finished in about six weeks, says builder Clarke Snell of the Nauhaus Institute, a non-profit group of designers, engineers, developers and others interested in sustainable urban living.

Snell says the home, which has 16-inch-thick walls, is airtight and energy-efficient. He expects it to meet rigorous Passive House Institute standards, which call for homes to use up to 90% less energy than regular ones.

"On the coldest day in winter, the body heat of 10 people should heat the home," he says. "We're basically building a European home."

Snell says his group will own the 1,750-square-foot house, and its engineer will live there for a couple of years to monitor energy use.
He doesn't know how much it will cost because, as a prototype, it was built with donations and volunteer labor.

The owners of the first hemp home say it cost $133 a square foot to build, not including land and excavation.

"That's pretty remarkable" for a custom home in Asheville, which is a pricey area, says Karon Korp, a writer who moved into the house in July.

Korp says she and her husband, Russ Martin wanted primarily an energy-efficient home. They're not particularly sensitive to chemicals, but they were drawn to Brenner because of his modern aesthetic and green building enthusiasm. She says they're thrilled their house is made of a renewable, toxic-free material and hope it sets an example for the nation.

"Hemp could replace tobacco if it were legalized," says Martin, Asheville's GOP mayor from 1993 to 1997. He says some area tobacco farms have gone bust.

Martin says they have spent less than $100 a month so far to cool the home, which has 3,000 square feet plus a garage. It has 12" thick walls, Energy Star appliances, dual-flush toilets, high-performance windows and LED lights. Korp says they might add a windmill, because the house sits atop a mountain.

They say they have fantastic views. "We seen the sun rise," he says. She adds, "and the sun set."

See photos of: Houston, Chicago, Russell Martin, Asheville


80-year-old Virginia Republican leads state’s marijuana decriminalization fight

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 -- 10:44 am

harveymorgan 80 year old Virginia Republican leads states marijuana decriminalization fight


Virginian lawmakers will have a unique opportunity to end criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana in their state when the 2011 Virginian General Assembly Session convenes on Wednesday, January 12.

Surprisingly enough, 80-year-old Republican Delegate Harvey Morgan, an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, is leading the charge to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Legislation proposed by Morgan, known as House Bill 1443, would replace the criminal fine for possession with a civil penalty and eliminate the 30-day jail sentence and criminal record that would follow conviction.

The bill would not change penalties for the manufacture or distribution of marijuana. It would also continue to require drug screening and education for minors convicted of marijuana possession.

Morgan introduced a similar bill in January of 2010, but the legislation never made it out of committee in the 2010 General Assembly Session.

"The Commonwealth continues to punish people for mistakes made decades ago," Morgan said during a news conference in January. "We need to move to a more honest, reasoned, compassionate, and sensible drug policy, and this bill does that."

"In 2007, nearly 18,000 people were arrested in Virginia for simple possession of marijuana," he continued." This places a tremendous burden on law enforcement, prisons and the judicial system. In these times of economic hardship, we need to closely examine how our tax dollars are spent."

"When you consider that research indicates that variations in penalties—including jail time—have no discernible effect on the prevalence or frequency of marijuana use, making simple possession a civil rather than a criminal offense makes sense."

With seven bills introduced to the General Assembly to outlaw "synthetic marijuana" -- such aspopular legal smoking blends like "Spice" and "K2" -- the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORMAL) says that "a robust drug policy debate... is virtually guaranteed" in the 2011 Virginian General Assembly Session.

Virginia police made 19,764 arrests for marijuana offenses in 2009, according to The Daily Progress.

On his TV show 700 Club, Pat Robertson, one of the cornerstone figures of America's Christian right movement and resident of Virginia, warned that current drug laws are having a negative effect on society.

"I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people," Robertson said. "Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing."

The Hemp Revolution - Cannabis Truth Documentary





Sentencing: South Carolina Governor Signs Reform Bill, Will End Mandatory Minimums for Some Drug Offenses

by Phillip Smith, June 03, 2010, 11:00pm, (Issue #635)

Posted in:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) Wednesday signed into law a sentencing reform package that includes ending mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. The bill, SB 1154 was based on the recommendations of the South Carolina Sentencing Reform Commission, empanelled by the governor in a bid to slow the growth of corrections spending in the state.

"A number of structural problems with our prison and parole system have prevented Corrections from making improvements that would both discourage recidivism and save taxpayer resources in the process," Sanford said in a signing statement. "This bill accomplishes many of those goals. It's designed not only to make our corrections process even more lean and effective and thereby save taxpayers millions -- but also to reduce overall crime and consequently improve the quality of life we enjoy as South Carolinians."

While South Carolina can brag about how cheaply it can imprison people -- it spends the second lowest amount per inmate in the country -- its prison budgets have soared along with its inmate population since the 1980s. In 1983, South Carolina spent $64 million to keep 9,200 people behind bars; this year, it will spend $394 million to imprison 25,000 people.

The bill attempts to change that trajectory through a number of measures. It ends mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug possession offenders and allows the possibility of probation or parole for certain second and third offenders. It also removes the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine possession.

It also allows more prisoners to get into work release programs in the final three years of their sentences and mandates six months of reentry supervision for nonviolent offenders. The bill allows for home detention for third time driving-with-a-suspended-license offenders and for route-restricted drivers on first and second convictions.

It isn't all sweetness and light. The bill shifts the status of two dozen crimes, including sex offenses against children, from nonviolent to violent, meaning inmates convicted of those offenses will have to serve at least 85% of their time before being paroled. It also increases penalties for habitual driving-while-suspended offenders who kill or gravely injure someone.

Still, the bill should have a real impact on the system, especially given that drug offenders are the biggest category of offenders in prison in South Carolina, followed in order by burglars, bad check writers, and people driving on a suspended license. Officials estimate the measure will save the state $409 million over the next five years.


It's about time.

by Vape (not verified), June 04, 2010, 12:27pm

It's about time something right happened in this state. It's embarassing to have to admit I live in a state where most of our legislators are still stuck in the "Reefer Madness" mode. Now if we can just get them to realize they need to join the 21st century and at least pass reasonable medical marijuana laws. Yes I know...wishful thinking...but I think they would be surprised to know just how many of us would vote for an anti-prohibition candidate.

Bible Belt, eh? UGH.

by fortuenti (not verified), June 04, 2010, 08:03pm

Damn them phony Christians!

Good News from Suckolina

by maxwood, June 04, 2010, 01:12pm

Last time I looked SC was the fourth biggest tobackgo producing state. Not only is this relevant to the War on "drugs" i.e. on anything but $igarettes, but imprisonment has been one of the sneaky techniques for getting youngsters hooked on nicotine. Now the state can't afford it financially, but another thing: the progress of outrage against Side Stream Smoke has meant that even tobackgo belt prisons have had to move toward smoking restrictions so imprisonment will soon no longer be worth bothering with as a recruitment method for Big 2WackGo, and this could lead to more dismantlement.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Dr. Donald Tashkin - Top anti-drug researcher changes his mind – says legalize marijuana


Patients for Medical Cannabis

Sharing information about medicinal use & legalization of Cannabis (Marijuana) & Hemp

Article Link:

Top anti-drug researcher changes his mind – says legalize marijuana

June 4th, 2009 § 13 Comments

257Over and over again, all the bad things we’ve been told about marijuana are revealed to be not only false, but often the precise opposite of the truth. So the next time someone tells you that marijuana is worse for your lungs than cigarettes, you might want to mention that the world’s leading expert on that subject happens to be a supporter of legalization.

(Source)  6.03.09

For 30 years, Donald Tashkin has studied the effects of marijuana on lung function. His work has been funded by the vehemently anti-marijuana National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has long sought to demonstrate that marijuana causes lung cancer. After 3 decades of anti-drug research, here’s what Tashkin has to say about marijuana laws:

“Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects,” Tashkin says. “But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.” [McClatchy]

We’ve been told a thousand times that marijuana destroys your lungs, that it’s 5 times worse than cigarettes, and on and on. Yet here is Donald Tashkin, literally the top expert in the world when it comes to marijuana and lung health, telling us it’s time to legalize marijuana. His views are shaped not by ideology, but rather by the 30 years he spent studying the issue. He didn’t expect the science to come out in favor of marijuana, but that’s what happened and he’s willing to admit it.

Here’s the study that really turned things around:

UCLA’s Tashkin studied heavy marijuana smokers to determine whether the use led to increased risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. He hypothesized that there would be a definitive link between cancer and marijuana smoking, but the results proved otherwise.

“What we found instead was no association and even a suggestion of some protective effect,” says Tashkin, whose research was the largest case-control study ever conducted.

Prejudice against marijuana and smoking in general runs so deep for many people that it just seems inconceivable that marijuana could actually reduce the risk of lung cancer. But that’s what the data shows and it not only demolishes a major tenet of popular anti-pot propaganda, but also points towards a potentially groundbreaking opportunity to develop cancer cures through marijuana research.

Over and over again, all the bad things we’ve been told about marijuana are revealed to be not only false, but often the precise opposite of the truth. So the next time someone tells you that marijuana is worse for your lungs than cigarettes, you might want to mention that the world’s leading expert on that subject happens to be a supporter of legalization.


Tashkin is discussing the results of his pulmonary research involving marijuana for the first time:


Even heavy, long-term marijuana smokers had no lung impairment after many years of smoking, and in fact tested slightly more healthy than those who didn’t smoke marijuana – “protective effect”.  He does mention, however, that the protective effect may only be present in heavy smokers, as they are getting a higher amount of the cannabinoids.

part 2:

See Also:


The Best Cannabis Research? Ask A Patient!

Barack Obama’s Quotes On Pot

Not all of them are in this video but what is in it is powerful! The title is incorrect in its implications but the content is not.

Marijuana is an anti-inflammatory, which means it suppresses immune system response

(I’m not surprised that SC turns its own good information into something BAD!)

December 6, 2010 by Hoam Rogh 1 Comment

The University of South Carolina (the state school with the t-shirts that say “COCKS” on them–meaning that not only does the school endorse chicken fights, but also genitals.) now also shills misleading science designed to support the arbitrary marijuana laws.

“Well, duh!” is the one and only conclusion from the prohibitionist tripe released this week.  The mainstream media has picked it up and put fear in the headlines yet again. (Why they have not run with Dr. Tashkin’s endorsement of legalization is beyond us here at MPIU, but arbitrary is the norm for the marijuana laws.)

Marijuana is an anti-inflammatory substance. Inflammation is a complex immune system response to harmful stimuli. It can be helpful in some wound healing, but also extremely painful or dangerous in certain auto-immune diseases and arthritis.

complex medicine: suppress immune system, but kills cancer?

The doctor performing the tests is an honest scientist.  His work into marijuana and cancer have revealed something we all know, both things are extremely complex.

Dr. Nagarkatti only cares about the facts and his research has revealed both good and bad things about marijuana.  However, that is not surprising do to its multifaceted cannabinoid nature.

The doctor explained:  ”Marijuana has over 400 different chemicals. It’s such a complex plant that we don’t know the impact of all of those chemicals.”

What he described as a “double-edged sword”  (since it’s marijuana it’s probably a Nerf sword due to its LD-50 score), cannabinoids can be used to treat  auto-immune diseases like MS and arthritis, but that treatment results from marijuana’s ability to treat inflammation by suppressing the immune system response.

Our game cock will kill your rooster

Auto-immune conditions are caused by your immune system going into overdrive, destroying healthy cells and damaged ones. Marijuana could stop that, and even help with inflammation from allergies or organ transplants.

Pot is anti-inflammatory, remind some whiney priss about that when she claims to be allergic to it.   They won’t believe you and probably will turn you in to the cops, which –ironically– is exactly the type of personal power over other citizens that our founding fathers sought to avoid.

In the South Carolina scientific study, marijuana suppressed the immune system in mice and so may also suppress it in humans.  It probably does.  The problem arises if certain forms of cancer need that immune system response to help fight and kill those cancer cells.

THC, safe but complex

What types of cancers?  Who knows.  The government is too busy arresting people to care.  They got a headline, so we’re all being arrested for using a substance which may suppress one aspect of our immune systems that our body could use if we had certain cancers.

Granted, this is not like tobacco which actually causes cancer to occur, but rather a side-effect of cannabis which may not help if you already have cancer.  Of course, this is all so speculative that no good scientist would blow the findings out of proportion.  Dr. Nagarkatti sure did not say anything stupid.

That’s the media’s job.  The past week saw the following headlines about the Cock’s study:

How cannabis dampens the body’s immune system

What Could Be So Bad About Taking Medical Marijuana For Pain Relief

Smoking Pot can Increases Chances of Cancer: Study

Smoking cannabis ‘ups cancer risk’

Cancer risk can increase by smoking cannabis

Fair and balanced reporting to be sure…

If the immune system has been suppressed by cannabis, would that suppression result in increased cancer development?  What about THC’s ability to kill certain cancer cells?  We need more research.  Let’s hope doctors in the states take the lead because the US government ain’t gonna!

Painting by JAMES MOORE, US Drug War Prisoner, Texas

What is really needed is a study of human cancer patients in California compared to those in Illinois.  Group the patients into two groups: cannabis, and no cannabis.  See who lives longer.  See who enjoys their time more.  Really find out if there is anything to this study in mice that has lots of assumptions in its conclusions.

But until then.  We’ll take mice and media hysteria.  And the new arrest of a marijuana criminal, one ever 37 seconds…

Hopefully, the media reported that as well.  But don’t hold your breath.  Reporting stories that support the government is a hell of a lot easier than reporting stories that undermine it.  Especially if you want to stay in the government’s good graces.

About Hoam Rogh

I wrote The Case of US v. Yerbas to hasten the legalization of marijuana through greater understanding of our constitutional rights. If you want such things, please give it a read.


Attention: New SC Event Added and One New Action Alert!

This is just a start I’m sure there’s more news to come. It’s an exciting month this Jan. because SC legislature goes into session!

The event is in the bar on the right of this blog, the action alert is also in the bar and the post under this one. Smile

“I think it's true that we've all been through
Some nasty weather
Let's understand that we're here
To handle things together
You gotta keep looking onto tomorrow
There's so much in life
That's meant for you

Get on your feet
Don't stop, before its over
Get on your feet
The weight is off your shoulder
Get on your feet
Get up, and make it happen
Get on your feet
Stand up, and take some action”

~ Gloria Estefan, “Get On Your Feet”

Vote for NORML To Receive Donation by Dec.29 9 a.m. EST

Please vote for NORML to receive a much needed donation from this organization for fighting for marijuana law reform!

Click the link above to vote! Voting ends Dec. 29th at 9 a.m EST! All you have to do is click for them to get support for the donation. May NROML win this donation!



Rick Steves on Marijuana Legalization: NORML Conference 2010 - UPDATED!

FEAR! See “lie”.

If I had to chose a favorite speaker from NORML’s plethora of wonderful voices it would be Rick Steves. He is very enlightening. When I listen to him speak I feel a bit smarter each time. To get the full version of this speech go to Download Rick Steves Full Lecture At NORML Confrence 2010 from iTunes Free or subscribe to the podcast Radical Russ has click here for the events podcast or click here for the Daily Audio Stash or click here for the NORML Weekly News. There will be three separate podcasts. Go to the events one and you can choose from any or all of those. Very informative! A must-have for any activist. Knowledge is power: USE IT!

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